“The Special One” met his former mentor from their days in Barcelona on Europe’s biggest stage. Inter Milan had just come off of a legendary performance against Guardiola’s FC Barcelona, winning 3-2 on aggregate with only 10 men on the pitch. Van Gaal’s Bayern defeated Lyon 4-0 in the other semi-final (and got to that point by defeating both Fiorentina and Manchester United 4-4 on away goals).
The all English final. All of Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and United were actually in this season’s Champions League quarter-final – an impressive showing for English football. Manchester United were able to narrowly beat a struggling Barcelona with Ronaldinho on his way out, and Chelsea were able to defeat Liverpool in extra time to reach this final. It was a great game which was dictated by Manchester United’s quick possession and combination play.
This is easily one of the most memorable Champions League matches of Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson. United leave this Champions League quarter-final tie with one of the most dominant score lines in the history of the competition. In the first leg of this quarter-final Roma had won 2-1 at home so it was up to United to come out and attack to survive – and that’s exactly what they did.
Pep Guardiola vs. Sir Alex Ferguson in the Champions League final. Two of the best coaches in the history of the game (and two of my personal favorites) meet on the biggest stage in European club football. Ferguson called this the best team he has ever faced – and with good reason – as Guardiola’s Barcelona was near its peak and their focus on controlling the center while maintaining the ball was too much for the Red Devils.
Chelsea looked like a different team to that who have been playing in the Premier League recently and put in a solid performance against a Porto side that were far below their usual standards.
Barcelona came into this Champions League fixture off the back of one of the club’s most memorable performances in the modern era. Could they repeat the magnificent display they provided at the Bernabeu?
Blanc and PSG showed why they are underrated with a good performance away to the European giant Real Madrid. Los Blancos displayed some worrying qualities on defense while PSG seems to have improved their possession game since the previous season. PSG had some problems in defense as well, but their use of the ball resulted in a match where they were very unlucky to lose 1:0.
Bayern were issued their first loss of the season to an impressive Arsenal defence. Guardiola’s team were the cause of the majority of their issues with a possession game which lacked intensity and failed to have a good enough level of penetration as they dominated the passing stats but failed to convert them into chances.
Roger Schmidt’s pressing machine fell late on against a Barcelona side lacking the injured Lionel Messi. Taking the lead through a Papadopolous header, Leverkusen controlled the game for the majority of the 90 with strong central-dominance and the typical intense pressing.
The first matchday of this season’s Champions League threw up a fixture worthy of the Champions League final. Last year’s finalists travelled to one of the most in-form clubs in the world. The match was fairly dull in the first hour, maybe to be expected with two teams that probably would have taken a 0-0 draw, however Kompany’s 57th minute goal was the catalyst for an entertaining last third of the match.